10 Tips For Successfully Using Airbnb

The explosive growth of Airbnb has been impressive, to say the least. Like many “platform” businesses, it was initially created out of necessity. It all started in 2007, when two designers, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, began to have problems making the rent payments on their San Francisco apartment. They thought they could turn their loft into a “rental space,” but felt that existing platforms like Craigslist were not the right way to advertise the space.

The best solution, they felt, was to set up a special website just to handle temporary rentals. This turned out to be an inspired move. Visionary business ideas often seem “obvious” in retrospect, but they are anything but this at the time.

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Gebbia and Chesky set up their website, added photos of the rental space, and got the word out there. The space rented instantly, and in a city like San Francisco where hotel space is limited, the word spread fast. Soon they were getting emails from people all over the world asking when they could rent their space too. This was when they realized that they had stumbed on a gold mine. Seven years later (2014), Airbnb.com had over 550,000 properties listed, 10 million guests, and a valuation of around 10 billion dollars. Chesky and Gebbia no longer have problems making their rent.

Some of you may be frequent users of the site. Some may have never used it at all. I started using it a few years ago during my frequent visits to a certain Brazilian city. I got tired of dealing with the rather insulting restrictions that some hotels in the city would mandate regarding guests and visitors. I also wanted the option of having more privacy than a traditional hotel might allow.

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I had a few friends who said good things about the site, so I gave it a try. It turned out to be a great decision. This might be a good time to offer my thoughts on how to make your Airbnb experience a good one. If you can follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way.

1. Read the listings very, very carefully

Airbnb gives the apartment owners some leeway in what they can do. Make sure you check out all the details, and then re-check them. Is the bathroom shared or not? Is there a security deposit required? Is there wifi access? Will you have to pay extra for certain things? I once made the mistake of not seeing that one host had a policy of charging extra for electricity usage during the stay.

2. Communicate with the host through the site

You want there to be a record of your communication with the owner of the property. If something goes wrong, the Airbnb people will be able to see all of the dialogue. When it comes to disputes, he who keeps the best records usually wins.

3. Make sure you also have the host’s WhatsApp info or phone number

There is no contradiction between this and the previous point. Always have a backup option for communication. If you get off a plane and are tired and disoriented, you want to be able to call your host if some problem occurs.

4. Be alert to warning signs for bad hosts

This is critical.  How can you tell if a host will be a problem? You will get a sense for it over time. Unreasonable hosts generally will have too many requirements, will make too many demands, and will just not “feel” right.

Some like to play “hide the ball” and not disclose things overtly. One prospective host, for example, wanted to know the names and ID numbers of any guest that would come to my room. That is not reasonable. Another host wanted to charge extra for electricity. That is also not reasonable (in my opinion).

Remember, when you reserve that room with your credit card, you are committed. So, before you actually book the room, make sure you communicate with the host. Doing so will enable you to sniff out whether he or she is a dunce. The minute you get the feeling that the host is a dunce, move on. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself.

5. Only use a credit card online

Do I really need to tell you this in 2016? Just making sure, guys.

6. Make sure you write a good review for your host

And ask that he or she reciprocates and does the same for you. You want to build up some credibility on the site, and nothing does that better than peer reviews.

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7. Use Airbnb’s customer service

Google the number and take it with you. The customer service has come a long way in recent years. They used to just toss you back to the host and tell you to resolve it with them. Not any more. Perhaps because of some recent bad publicity from a couple unfortunate incidents (which I need not relate here), Airbnb has done a great job of having a real customer service department. I had a great experience with them the one time I had to cancel a reservation. They were prompt, responsive, and professional.

8. Check your communication skills

If you are communicating in a foreign language, keep things short and simple. Repeat key points when needed. That will reduce the chances of misunderstandings. You don’t want your host to misread something important, so make your sentences clear, short, and free of any slang or idiom.

9. It is not a hotel

Remember that this is someone’s property. Don’t disrespect it. Clean it up before you go, and treat the property with care. You get the idea.

10. Pay attention to the host’s “cancellation policy”

This will be listed right on the host’s page. Some hosts have strict policies on cancellation, and others are more lenient. Strict policies are going to be just that: once you’re booked, you are financially committed. Be warned.

Like anything in life, Airbnb is not perfect. Like the decision whether to use Uber or hire a cab, there are going to be trade-offs both ways. But it’s clear that Airbnb is here to stay, and for me, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Read More: How American Football Became A Racket

47 thoughts on “10 Tips For Successfully Using Airbnb”

  1. Be careful about maps not displaying the actual location of the home. This has been an issue before. Also, homes in other countries often don’t have precise street addresses (ie Calle 11 west of the Rio Grande, north of Plaza Mayor), so it is tough to verify using your own mapping software–best to read the reviews of others. No one wants to be stranded in a remote location wandering around searching for the nearest kratom dealer when you intended to book a place right in the heart of the action.

      1. Absolutely. There really should be an award on this site for smoothest transition into mentioning kratom.

        1. Yeah one time after Kratom I got pluuuuuucked and plucked for hours, about 30 buff orpingtons, cocks that were too aggressive. Leave only the hens if you know what I mean bro.

        2. I think the kratom actually inspires them. But look it up if your uninformed about it. On this site a cup of kratom tea is regarded almost like the holy elixir of neomasculinity. A bit like in the film Dune with ‘the spice’.

  2. I dunno- are biz models like this proof positive the west is in terminal economic decline? Who in their right minds would rent out their homes to virtual strangers unless they were in desparate need of cash? How about car-sharing services like Zipcar? People cant afford cars, so they are sharin’ em

    1. Fair coincidence but just got off the phone to my friend he was on a six week trip to Indonesia. They rented the house out while they were gone. Their sister took care of it for them. So there is at least one practical application of it. Wouldn’t be particularly keen on the idea myself but i see the benefit. Plus renters get ratings too so it isnt totally blind.

    2. I know a few people who run airbnb listings, and they treat it as…well…a bed and breakfast. One lady I know charges something like $120/night per room, and she gets it because she’s a consummate host. Kids are out of the house, mortgage is paid off, so why not make some money?
      The benefit to the airbnb service is definitely the rating system. Some people won’t give rooms to unreviewed or poorly-reviewed users, and most users won’t stay at a poorly-reviewed home.
      As for Zipcar and other ride-sharing services, I see it as a clever business strategy. Lots of people either can’t afford a car or can’t park it (especially in the larger cities), so provide a nicer and/or cheaper alternative to taxi services.
      We are in terminal economic decline, but these services make sense even in decent economies.

      1. How much longer til we see a biz built around reselling groceries that are about to expire? Pizzeria by me has been getting questions like “what do you have on sale today?” Deep Discount Deep Dish Pizzeria

        1. Like the discount bin at the grocery store?
          To make profit on nearly-expired food, you’d have to get them donated so you can sell for less than the original cost. I expect that works much better for Goodwill or the local food bank, because the product isn’t perishable.
          Still, I’ve made a few bucks pawning off the last few shots of mediocre tequila, so who knows.

        2. That’s actually a good idea. The first place I go if I am looking for a quick meal to make is the last day section of the supermarket meat department. $3.99 for ribeye, yup, I’ll eat that.

        3. That’s basically trader joes in my experience with produce, meats, and a few other things which ain’t bad considering there’s no preservatives, chemicals, or anything but the first few times I shopped there I didn’t realize everything was a day or two from going bad so I just bought a day or twos worth.

        4. The way Americans eat and cook is so out of touch. We should be going to a local market a few times a week to buy fresh food for a meal or two, not runs to Costco to stock up on preserved and frozen pseudo food for two months.

        5. That’s exactly right but at the time I was working turnarounds in refineries putting in over 80 hours a week so I started meal prepping usually Sunday’s and Thursday’s and would cook 3 to 4 days worth of meals at a time and then eat those during the long week instead of shitty fast food but sometimes if I didn’t cook things right away I’d end up wasting them. In today’s market the healthy food for whatever reason is more expensive and I hate wasting good food but once I realized the short time frame I had I just made sure I shopped on days I could use it to avoid wasting money and food.

        6. I dont doubt bargain bins exist, but Ive never seen one in my neck of the woods

    3. Yes, and firms like this being “worth” 6 billion dollars (as if they could ever extract a dollar from every living person on the planet) is proof that the financial system is kaput.
      I really do need to start my own internet firm and sell it on Wall Street for billions. It’s getting stupid.

    4. Seems to me like they are proof the west is finally creating a balanced, sustainable economy not propped up by debt. Not everybody should be able to own a car or be able to drop stacks of cash on hotels.

    5. Bed and Breakfast has existed for a long while. Many hostels come from this. Not sure it counts in the sense you’re stating.

  3. From personal experience, I semi-violate rule 4 and 5. I stay in a place in New England area for a month. Host was nice lady, but I did not notice the problems with my room and paid in cash. It was miserable month due to the room not being properly insulated for the cold and I couldn’t use a space heater. I was not on vacation, but I loss a lot of time to study and became sick due cold room.

  4. I have to say I’m surprised, this is quite different from what I expect when clicking on a Quintus Curtius article. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an informative read, I just didn’t realize it was Quintus until I went back up to the top and looked at the writer credits. Usually I’d think “Life, Details And Little Known Facts About (Insert name of Great Man here)” or “The Battle of (Insert historical battle here) Demostrates (insert lofty moral value here)”. Heh.
    But good article nevertheless.

    1. Ah, but little did you know, this article is actually an allegory which alludes to the themes of his other articles! We have here a “Great Man” by the name of Quintus Curtius, whose “Life, Details And Little Known Facts” were a mystery to his host, Joe Schmoe, of a “certain Brazilian city”. Then, he had a great “Battle” with said host over whether it was reasonable to charge a guest an extra fifteen bucks for charging his smartphone for a few hours. This “historical battle” demonstrates the important “lofty moral value” of hospitality.
      It sounded funnier in my head.

        1. Whoa, what are the chances? I was just watching this movie a few days ago… a fantastic and surreal film for sure, and Bill Murray, a comedic genius as usual.

      1. Gotta say well done then, brother. I was broadsided, heh.

  5. My biggest issue with using AirBNB is that I want to be able to bring fresh tail back to where I’m staying. I would take a guess and assume that the majority of hosts are not ok with this, while in hotels you can do what you want. Anyone have any opinions on this?

    1. Guest policies vary a lot, and you really have to read the listing for each place. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re paying for your room, you should be able to bring guests to your place (within reason of course…bringing by 20 people would not be cool).
      Some hosts get neurotic about this and demand to see IDs of visitors and guests. I don’t think that’s reasonable, and I won’t stay at such places.

  6. For single guys looking for a week or less, I recommend couchsurfing.com. It is a free room/couch/floor sharing site that works on user reviews. Create a profile, upload pics of you travelling and start looking for places to crash. I have gone back and forth across the country for nothing and met some awesome locals. Also hosted some great people along the way – army dudes on vacation, foreign girls travelling around, etc. I even had a cute Israeli girl cook me authentic shakshuka.

  7. I can’t see any reason to ever use airbnb. if you are against nice hotels for whatever reason, there are plenty of ways to rent short term, fully furnished, nice EMPTY apartments. not taking any chances crashing in random strangers’ houses. the horror stories are numerous.
    if airbnb is your most cost effective method of sleep when travelling — don’t take the trip! save up some more money and wait.

    1. Yeah… I’m not sure a sea otter is qualified to give advice on human accommodation, actually.

  8. I think a few posters are confused when it comes to Airbnb. The key is getting your own place, no share BS or a room in a place. Get your own place. A good way of telling if the place is nice is if it gets good scores in the cleanliness category. The best places usually are owned by people who never live in them, that just run them as businesses. You can tell the difference between the part time and full time places by reading the reviews. If the last year of reviews seem to be constant then the place is a full time rental. If there are reviews scattered through the previous year then the host may only rent his place when he is out of town. In the property description they usually mention if they live there at some point. With all this in mind I have stayed in some great apartment complexes all over the world and you can bring whoever you want back to your place. When the owner is 3000 miles away there is no way for them to know who you bring to your place and when. They usually just want no parties or obvious disturbances that could annoy the neighbors. Airbnb is one of the greatest Internet businesses out there, it allows the smart traveler to save an incredible amount of money and usually provides a quality place to stay that is far superior to a hotel. The money saved on cooking your own meals is worth it alone. Also the locations are sometimes in the middle of all the action and are better than the location of hotels in the same city. Some neighborhoods just don’t have hotels in them, but they do have Airbnbs. Good luck to all.

  9. I Air bnb’d at an upscale apartment in dallas. everytime I left and came back I had to wait for them to buzz me in, it was fucking annoying.

  10. Successful AirBnB host here, started at the end of last December, have since hosted 35 trips that now pay my entire rent, and then some. As this is a perfect example of enterpreneurship in action, I’m a bit surprised to read negative comments here about hosting, as enterpreneurial independence is a major cornerstone of manosphere goal setting; it’s allowed me to quit a shitty job and I haven’t had a single negative experience from any guest.
    So, here’s a possible money-making challenge: figure out a safe method to connect red pill-friendly travellers with like-minded hosts, while protecting anonymity from the general public about connections to the lifestyle — wouldn’t it be great to be able to access a list of pro-red-pill hosts in your destination city, thus guaranteeing an understanding and non-cock-blocking hosting experience.

  11. as Schopenhauer said about the difference between the talent and the genius: “Talent is like the marksman who hits a target, which others cannot reach. Genius is like the marksman who hits a target, which others cannot see.”

  12. Be careful about hosts that have a “clean up before you leave” policy. Ask them if they provide cleaning products and/or use a professional cleaning service on a regular basis. If the answer is no to either question be very wary and expect to have to clean up when you arrive if you have any real standard of cleanliness.
    I stayed at such a place in Hawaii a few years ago and was appalled by the conditions when I arrived. We had to spend our first two hours cleaning the place top to bottom all while spending 30 bucks on our own cleaning supplies. I took pictures and sent them to the host demanding a credit for the supplies and time. After some back and forth he finally agreed (probably to avoid the bad review). But it was far from worth the 50 bucks he begrudgingly refunded me.

  13. I always make sure to look up the address on Google Earth so I can get an idea of the area.
    If it’s an apartment complex, I try to zoom in on the sign and then I’ll go read reviews on the apartment complex since the AirBnb ad almost never includes the name of the apartment complex, only the address.

  14. #5 does need said again. Credit card, not Debit card with a Visa logo on it. You really shouldn’t use a debit card ever. Anywhere. Or even own one. Tell your bank you want an ATM-only card. Most do still have them, they’re just not advertised and are rarely requested.
    When a CC number gets stolen you deny the charge and forget about it. When a DC number gets stolen you deny the charge and then spend the next two weeks trying to figure out how to make your rent payment because your checking account has been drawn into overdraft.

  15. I’ve been to 18 airbnbs across Europe and Africa in the past 2 months. A few negative reviews don’t affect a hosts 5-star rating…so don’t just look at the star rating on the main property page. Open the reviews, scroll, and read them. Look at each guest’s reviews. Also, read between the lines. Some guests fear retaliatory feedback by the hosts (yes, hosts do that..one specifically told me so). And some just want to be nice and polite. See if there are common “missing words”…like if the word “clean” is conspicuously missing from a lot of the reviews. That’s a sign that it’s not as clean as it should be, but people are trying to be nice without lying. And airbnb’s customer service is top notch, but the degree of help depends also on the rep helping you. In the end though, they are fair with help and resolutions. Make sure you find their contact numbers in the country you are visiting, since often an 800 number doesn’t work on a local phone overseas, and all of the sudden for some reason your SIM card quits working with their network, internet goes down, and someone steals your laptop (thanks Morocco). Another tip… A “superhost” sometimes means jack sh*t. Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than non-superhosts. Make a walk through video of the room when you get there and when you’re about to walk out the door at the end. Take pics of damage. You never know what could happen. And Airbnb disputes are many times swing in your favor with photo evidence of even small things. Don’t overlook that. Take 2 seconds and snap a pic of something doesn’t seem right…even if you don’t really mind (marks on the wall, dripping sink, a wrinkle on the blinds, etc). Trust me. I love Airbnb, but be smart.

  16. A missed important one – give an honest review so future renters can get an honest idea of the property

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